She gets Condor mechanics on call (a bit), is a firm fixture in the cyclo-cross scene and likes a bit of cake. Amazing what you learn in five minutes.
I ride all manner of things. I found a purple steel Carlton bike frame in a skip and the mechanics at Condor helped me build it up into a fixed gear. I’ve got a carbon Condor road bike and two cyclo-cross bikes.
I’ve been racing cyclo-cross for about five years. I dabbled in it for the first year, just made a bike out of things I could get from eBay and Freecycle and then committed to riding a proper bike with all the gear about three years ago.
I like racing. You go really fast and sometimes you win something. I won half my weight in beer the other week and a bunch of bananas. It’s a measure of yourself and how you are getting along. I quite like having markers in the sand about my fitness.
You just get on a bike and off you go. It’s a bit like running in that sense. I love snowboarding and doing all sorts of sports but you need to book a snowboarding trip, find friends to ride with and so on but cycling you just get on and ride. You can incorporate it into your day or you can go out on the weekend riding up and down some hills.
My earliest bike memory is my mum finding a Raleigh’ blue bird’ kids bike with stabilizers in the woods behind our house and then a year later finding another one exactly the same (my dad had to fix it a bit). My sister and I used to ride in circles on our matching bikes around the patio. We’d try and go fast enough to get some serious wheel lift.
Being a woman in cycling is a bit nuts. You used to be the only girl who showed up to something and get loads of attention but suddenly no one is fussed and there are loads of people riding. It’s a bit tricky if you want to get up there in the elite/pro side of things and sometimes finding cycling clothes that don’t make you look a bit weird is tough.
I’ve got a bit of a short attention span. Cyclo-cross racing is no more than one hour around a course. I like that each lap I’ll find a way to ride a patch of mud a bit quicker, sort of learning as you go. In a race you are all split up and you don’t have a bunch that you need to keep up with, everyone is always overtaking each other so you are never last.
My cross bike is sturdy and can handle slippy ground so when I’m out riding the lanes I can just peel off down a footpath and weave about on some narrow tracks which makes the experience that bit more interesting.
I really like munching on cakes so getting on my bike is a good way to offset that habit.
I don’t go out to a race thinking I’m going to beat that person or that lass. That’s a bit unfriendly. I prefer to see how far I can get up the standings and what I can achieve after doing some training.
Cycling has got a bit of tech to it and I’ve learnt about materials and how they behave and I didn’t think I’d ever be interested in that but you sort of come around to it.
I got to watch a stage of the Tour de France from a helicopter.There is so much good stuff about my job. On a day-to-day basis we get to design and play about making some really cool-looking bikes and kit. I’ve had a few highlights like going in team cars behind a pro race, meeting Mark Cavendish (who was a nice guy, a little short, but very long eye lashes.) If my bike isn’t quite working right after a few months of riding the mechanics at Condor help me out, they’ve taught me a few little fixes.
Favourite places to ride are London, Belgium and Italy. Belgium is cold and mostly flat and they are cycling mad so its a nice place to be on a bike and there are lots of historic rides and places to go and races to watch. Italy is hot and some parts are very mountainous and it’s not like anything we have in the UK. London is flat and fun on a single speed. I just go around on my bike in the summer across the river looking at the sun setting and that’s a nice view.
The women’s cyclo-cross scene is growing rapidly. It’s a really good scene and people are up for it. People are friendly and joke about afterwards and before the race and it’s a really good atmosphere. That’s why I keep coming back to it. Anything goes. There are loads of photographers who go to the races now because there so many elements in a race that make good images like all the mud, or people falling off or riding in sand and you can look back at your day online.
You can read more about Claire on her blog, aptly titled ‘I Get Cross‘.